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Full text of "Mathematical And Physical Papers - Iii"

ON   THK  CHANCiK  OF  REF1UNGIBIUTY OF  LIGHT.
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tions as indefinitely small. The excursions of the atoms may be, and doubtless are, excessively small compared with the length of a wave of light; but it by no means follows that they are excessively small compared with the linear dimensions of a complex molecule. It is well known that chemical changes take place under the influence of light, especially the more refrangible rays, which would not otherwise happen. In such cases it is plain that the molecular disturbances must not be regarded as indefinitely small. But vibrations may very well take place which do not go to the length of complete disruption, and yet which ought by no means to be regarded as indefinitely small. Furthermore, it is to be observed that if in the eases of indefinitely small molecular displacements the forces of restitution be riot proportional to the displacements, the principle above alluded to will not be applicable however small the disturbance may be; and if in the expressions for the forces of restitution the terms depending on first powers of the displacements (supposed finite), though not absolutely null, be very small, the principle will not apply unless the molecular excursions be extremely small indeed. In consequence of the necessity of introducing forces not proportional to the displacements, it, would be very difficult to calculate the motion, even wen* we acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, whereas we are quite in the dark respecting the actual data of the problem. But certainly we cannot affirm that in the disturbance communicated hack ajjain to the luminiferous ether none but periodic vibrations would be produced, having the same period as the incident vibrations. Rather, it scorns evident that a sort of irregular motion must, bo producer! in the molecules, periodic only in the sense that the molecules retain the same mean state; and that the disturbance which the molecules in turn communicate to the ether must be such as cannot be expressed by circular functions of a given period, namely, that of the incident vibrations.
228. It is very remarkable with what pertinacity a particular mode of internal dispersion attaches itself to a particular chemical substance. Thus the singular dispersion of a red light exhibited by the green colouring matter of leaves is found in a green leaf, or in a solution of the green colouring matter in alcohol, ether, sul-phuret of carbon, or muriatic acid. The dispersion exhibited by nitrate of uranium is found in a solution of the salt in water, as